Film Photography

3 reasons why you should scan your own film

1 .It’s fun

Scanning film is fun? Of course but let me explain why. Recently, I started scanning my own film. Before I would have my film scanned when I got my film developed. If you don't have a scanner I suggest you doing so since you film is there and more than often they have scanners there. A one stop shop. 

However, what’s the fun in that? With scanning film comes an experience. When you receive your film scans back you get negatives. You can hold them up to a light and see the negative and get a rough idea of what the picture looks like. However, I don't get the full effect of the image until I see the positive. When I scan my film and get those small previews, the magic begins. You start to see the image you have created it. Then when you do a full scan you get to see your image in its glory. It’s truly a magical experience when see your scanned image blown up on your screen.

2. Save that money

As I stated above, usually when I send my film out to get developed I also get it scanned. Of course you're paying for scanning it. Scans range in a couple dollars up to $10-$15 depending on the file size. A scanner will run you any where from $50 to upwards of a couple hundred for a consumer level scanner. Say your paying $5 per roll (~5 images) on a 36 exposure roll. About $35+ per 36 exposure roll. You buy a $150 scanner, you're going to pay that $150 for 5 rolls if you were to get 5 rolls scan by a third party. So a scanner isn’t that bad of an investment if you’re plan on scanning a decent amount of film.

3. Get more out of negatives

Having your film negatives scanned saves quite a bit of time but you loose out on details. When you are scanning negatives you want to get the most details you can. A great thing about shooting film is the latitude. You have the ability to underexpose and overexpose film a couple stops and still be able to bring the details back.

Most developing/scanning labs will scan based on your specifications (contrast level, exposure level, mood). However, they're scanning the photo based on how they edit. Granted, they are putting your style into account. When scanning you're own film, you control the exposure of the scan, the contrast of the scan, etc. You have full control of your film and how you want it to look. You control everything allowing you to get the most of the negatives for you.

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3 instant film cameras to try

1. Fuji Instax Mini/Wide

If you haven’t been involved with photography or you are a younger person, chances are you at least know of Fuji Instax. Fuji has been pumping out Fuji Instax Mini/Wide for quite some time now. You have two formats, mini (credit card size) and wide (Polaroid spectra size). These cameras are fairly simple to load, set, and shoot. Once shot, allow the photo to process (a couple minutes) and you will have a print right in your hands. Both camera and film sizes are readily available. All of them can be found online and some even in your local Walmart.

Fuji Instax Mini (left) produces a credit card sized print whereas the Fuji Instax Wide (right) produces a wider more Polaroid like print.

Fuji Instax Mini (left) produces a credit card sized print whereas the Fuji Instax Wide (right) produces a wider more Polaroid like print.

2. Polaroid 600

These next two options, are not as simple as the Fuji Instax. Released in the 80s, Polaroid 600 is the iconic Polaroid that you remember your parents holding. Think black boxy camera with a super bright flash. Polaroid has since ceased making Polaroid 600 film (around 2008). However, a new company called The Impossible project has bought some of the old Polaroid machines and a factory. They actually came up with their own process and chemicals with the help of past Polaroid employees. The film they produce today is a lot better than their first round of film. You can purchase Polaroid 600 film and cameras on Impossible’s website. I suggest looking on eBay or Etsy before shelling out a couple hundred on Impossible’s cameras.

The classic Polaroid 600 that everyone thinks of when you say Polaroid.

The classic Polaroid 600 that everyone thinks of when you say Polaroid.

3.  Polaroid sx70

Polaroid sx70 has the same story as Polaroid 600. They ceased production of film and The Impossible Project started making their own. Sx70 film is the same format as Polaroid 600 however, they have different film speeds. Polaroid sx70 has a ISO of 150 whereas Polaroid 600 has a ISO of 640. The one big selling point of the sx70 was its ability to fold flat and fit into a pocket. The revolutionary design made this camera a breeze to whip out of your pocket, snap a photo, and slide in right back in the pocket. Who doesn’t want a folding camera!?

Polaroid sx70's design was revolutionary as it could fold flat and slip right into a pocket.

Polaroid sx70's design was revolutionary as it could fold flat and slip right into a pocket.

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5 reasons why you should still shoot film

 Film? What is it? Film is actually what you would shoot pictures with before you had a camera in your pocket at all times.  Film is one of those things I don’t think I will ever let go.  It’s really like magic. You have a roll a film that gets developed, from there is a tiny negative image and then it can be blown up and printed or scanned. There are quite a lot of reasons why you should still shoot film. Listed below are just some of the many reasons why.

1.      Slows you down

With the cameras we have now, all we have to do is turn it on and hit the shutter button. However, that’s not the case with shooting film. Almost all film cameras are full manual besides Aperture and Shutter priority modes.

Yes, with a film camera you’ll need to actually study and learn the basics of photography. Since the camera is manual you need to adjust the camera settings (shutter and aperture) before each shot. Which in turn slows you down. It really makes you think and analyze the shot. You must evaluate the light and adjust the settings for the correct exposure. Remember, you only have a limited number of shots…choose wisely or what everyone says, “Think twice. Shoot once”.

2.      Fairly Cheap

Buying a camera in this day in age can get pretty expensive. For a decent DSLR (cropped sensor) you are looking at spending about $500. However, since the technology boom with cameras, 35mm film cameras have dropped dramatically in price. KEH sells film cameras as well as lens and other camera accessories.  Or you can bargain on eBay and hope for the best. Another great website is also Most lenses from film cameras also work on digital cameras. For instance, lenses from the Canon film cameras from 1987 and on still work great on modern Canon DSLRs, which can save you money in the future if you don’t care for manual focus lenses. Also, with a film camera you’re getting full frame right away.  With the $500 DSLR you are getting a cropper sensor. You will however have to buy film and pay for developing, scanning, and printing or you can do that all yourself. But will $500 you can get a decent 35mm film camera, a couple lenses, some film, and pay for developing (quite a few rolls).

3.      High Dynamic Range and No megapixels

With film, you are about to get a wider range of light which dynamic range. In modern cameras, there are sensors and these sensors have restrictions. There are only a certain number of stops of dynamic range and number of megapixels they can cram into a single camera. On the other hand, there is only one restriction will film, the scanner. So you are able to get better shadows and highlights with film.

There are no megapixels in film cameras. What does this mean? You can print giant photos from your roll of film and they will look amazing. The bigger the negative the more detail, so with a medium format or even 4x5 camera there is going to be a lot more detail and dynamic range.

4.      The colors are amazing

There is a difference from pictures shot on film from pictures shot on digital. Film just has that look that I don’t think I can every get away from. Film brings me back to when I was younger because everything shot then was on film. Film just feels timeless. Most digital photography filters are mostly based off film. There are presets you can buy for Photoshop now from VSCO Cam and Mastin Labs. This is because the colors of film are so amazing. When I look at pictures that were shot on film especially Kodak Portra I just get connected to the image. They just feels warm and at home. Just look around at The Find Lab’s Instagram, many images they process and post to Instagram are shot on Portra.

5.      Physical Prints

Now that we are in the digital age, everything is digital. “Hey look at this photo I just got on my iPhone, I’ll send it to you”. We share everything online now and we hardly ever print anymore. Since film has no megapixels, technically (it depends on how you scan it), you can print decent size prints and the image will look great. Printing film just makes you fall in love with it even more. Even seeing digital prints printed are amazing.  Also, with physical prints there not just stored on the computer and you forget about them. When was the last time you pulled out old photo albums and looked at the pictures, probably not for a long time.  Physical photo albums for many are old and out dated. However, print your prints, you will love them and appreciate your photographs so much more.

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